Cristiano Ronaldo's trickery is what fans pay to see says Sir Alex Ferguson

06 March 2009 07:02
Never one to agree with Arsène Wenger lightly, the Manchester United manager admits his old foe was right to suggest Ronaldo's endless array of step-overs, feints and dummies could be seen as arrogance by frustrated opponents, desperate to cut him down to size.

But the idea of trying to contain the exuberance and desire to entertain which have taken Ronaldo from raw prodigy to World Player of the Year is anathema to the Scot, who has always nurtured and treasured such ability. That is, after all, what he paid Sporting Lisbon £12.6 million to see.

Ferguson said: "I don't see why I should restrain him. That's just the way he plays and I'm enjoying watching it. Christ, that's what I paid to watch. I understand what Arsène means when he says it appears as arrogance, but that's different from saying Cristiano is arrogant.

"All the great players have the courage to want the ball and express themselves. That's Cristiano's great asset. It's not that he's prepared to do what they do, it's that they have the courage to do it. All the great players have a touch of what you can call nice arrogance, a belief in themselves. It didn't matter who they were playing against, they wanted the ball and they wanted to play.

"That is a vein that courses through all the great players you can name and it is something that means they get treatment from defenders. George Best got it when he was playing. Johan Cruyff got it, if you remember the tackles the Brazilian defenders gave him in the 1974 World Cup.

"Diego Maradona and Pele had it. That's what great players do. They express themselves, and that frustrates defenders. They don't enjoy it when a player expresses himself in such an entertaining way."

Ferguson knows just as well, though, that over-physical defenders can frustrate United's star turn in equal measure. Ronaldo has lashed out on several occasions this season as the annoyance of dealing with rough-house tactics aimed at quieting him has boiled over.

He has kicked out at Andy Wilkinson, of Stoke, and Blackburn's David Dunn, Michael Dawson of Tottenham and Celtic midfielder Scott Brown.

As well as Wednesday's altercation with Newcastle defender Steven Taylor in the St James' Park tunnel, Ronaldo clashed with Middlesbrough's Emanuel Pogatetz earlier in the campaign, while he was sent off in the Manchester derby.

While Ferguson, in private, is likely to have urged Ronaldo to try to let his talent do the talking, he feels that penchant for self-protection is another strand which links the former Sporting Lisbon player to the names that have gone down in the game's history.

He said: "You can understand him lashing out when he keeps getting kicked and nothing happens. If you are not getting the protection you need, sometimes you can lose your temper.

"It is more difficult for referees now, because of the speed of the game. That's why Cristiano was wrongly booked in the Carling Cup final, because he's easy meat, but you can understand it because the game is so fast.

"The times Cristiano has shown flashes of temper have been over nothing incidents, but a lot has been made of them. He has to live with that. It's no big deal for me and he accepts he will get more attention than others will, but there's no question a lot of the players I've mentioned could stick up for themselves."

Despite starting 13 of United's last 14 matches, Ronaldo is part of the squad for the FA Cup quarter-final at Fulham and is likely to at least play a part as Ferguson, confident the strength in depth of his side means he has the resources to challenge on three fronts, seeks his fourth semi-final place in five years.

He said: "I don't know my best XI at the moment, whereas in the past I always did. But that means I can pick a different team for different games and we can analyse our opponents. If you'd asked me at the start of the season where I'd have wanted to be at the middle of March, you couldn't go much beyond where we are now."


Source: Telegraph

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